Jazz  Electronic
Brandon Ross Phantom Station Off the End SSC1732 CD
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Detailed information hide

FormatAudio CD
Ordering NumberSSC1732
labelSunnyside Records
Release date19/04/2024
  • Hardedge: Sounddesign
  • Haynes, Graham: Cornet, Electronics
  • JT Lewis: Drums
  • Ross, Brandon: Electric Guitar, Soprano Guitar, Vocal
  • Virelles, David: Keyboards, Piano
Tags: jazz

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      Description hide

      So much in the creative arts is determined by the choices of collaborators, environment, and performance goals. Guitarist, composer, and conceptualist Brandon Ross regularly creates situations with other musicians and artists to push their collective creativity to new destinations. The Phantom Station ensemble is a vehicle that Ross returns to with soundesign artist, Hardedge, to embark upon adventurous, uncharted musical journeys.

      The idea behind Phantom Station was to assemble an “individual-directed” ensemble that could engage in an open musical discourse and instantaneous music-making without the borders of genre or preconceived musical ideas. One of the results of one of these meetings was recorded at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, Connecticut and is presented as Off The End, a fascinating document of spontaneous creation with an incredible cast of musicians, including cornetist Graham Haynes, keyboardist David Virelles, and drummer JT Lewis.

      Ross began Phantom Station as a springboard for his creative pursuits with Hardedge, an electronic artist, whose singular soundesign work is employed to generate interactive sound worlds with textures and palettes conceived for the settings or ensembles. Hardedge’s electronics thus maximize the sonic and textural possibilities without overextending the size of the ensemble. Additionally, Phantom Station became an open-door invitational sound “crucible” for a round robin of Ross’s wide net of collaborators.

      In late fall 2021, Ross presented two concerts of Phantom Station, one in New York at the Jazz Gallery and the other at Firehouse 12. The band had slightly different personnel for each show but with the same instrumentation, as Ross wanted to focus on the dynamics between his electric and acoustic guitars, Hardedge’s soundesign, and drums along with cornet/electronics and keyboards.

      Haynes and Ross have known each other since Ross arrived in New York City in the early 1980s. They eventually made plans to record and perform duet material while the cornetist lived in Paris in the 90’s. Ross’s relationship with drummer JT Lewis is also a long and fruitful one, as they remain engaged in many musical settings, most importantly their avant power trio Harriet Tubman, with bassist Melvin Gibbs. The most recent addition to Ross’s collective fold is Cuban-born, US-based keyboard player David Virelles, who Ross met through a mutual affiliation with composer Henry Threadgill in 2014. The two hit it off and gradually began to perform together inviting each other into various projects.

      This was the group that convened at Firehouse 12 on December 10, without detailing instructions about the musical direction prior to the show, with the intention of allowing the music to be unconfined by predetermined structures. Ross trusted all the members of this iteration of Phantom Station to direct and self-orchestrate with the resources and influences that they utilize as creative musicians. The recording captures the entire concert as it developed, which has been indexed for reference.

      Hardedge’s chirping, ringing electronics and Lewis’s low drums create a mood on the introductory “May Forever Pass Between.” Energy builds with rattling percussion as Ross and Haynes join with warm, measured tones on “Through the Heart of My Demarcation” with the addition of Virelles’s piano and keyboards making the piece a rhapsodic clarion call. Ross’s plaintive vocals float above an ambient wave of synth, guitar, and cornet electronics on “The Gate Is Open” before Virelles and Lewis unleash a torrent of keys, sequenced sounds, and drums on “Your Shoes Point Like Arrows.” The intensity builds and builds as Haynes’s cornet and Ross’s wailing guitar are unleashed.

      Virelles’s piano is stately over a cacophony of twittering percussion and electronics on “Unsharpened Angles Of,” while “I Can See All of This” finds a break in the musical storm, introducing a calm ballad-like feel with Ross’s soprano guitar and Haynes’s cornet as focal points. Ross’s strumming brings in syncopated drums and piano on “How I Will Ornament Your Mouth” with Haynes’s wailing cornet affecting a somber mood over the sparse accompaniment. Ross’s Golpe (percussion-on-guitar-body) introduces and Lewis’s hand drumming begins to steady the insistency on “Sometimes I Stand Behind You,” as Haynes, Virelles, and Ross add sharp rejoinders while Hardedge conducts a swirl of ominous tones.

      The bluesy twang of Ross’s soprano guitar breaks the spell on “Immaculate Toes” before the rest of the ground begins to swell on “Leave It On The Ground,” this long segment allows off-kilter percussion and a refracted piano counterpoint to set a framework for a collective call-and-response between electric guitar, cornet, and drums. The recording concludes with “Harmonic Convergence,” a vintage Ross composition spontaneously played as a duet by Ross and Haynes, the sound of the duo resolving together in a warm and harmonically resonant conclusion.

      Brandon Ross and Phantom Station create a unique and powerful soundscape on their new recording, Off The End. This full-length piece highlights the abilities of these astounding artists coming together to create a singularly profound piece of art crafted in the creative power of the present moment.

      Tracklist hide

      CD 1
      • 1.may forever pass between08:12
      • 2.through the heart of my demarcation13:37
      • 3.the gate is open03:59
      • 4.your shoes point like arrows05:04
      • 5.unsharpened angles of02:51
      • 6.i can see all of this09:03
      • 7.how i will ornament your mouth02:55
      • 8.sometimes i stand behind you04:12
      • 9.immaculate toes01:27
      • 10.leave it on the ground10:34
      • 11.harmonic convergence03:55
      • Total:01:05:49